MOL Group: The Freshhh competition 2015

Posted: May 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

Blog on behalf of MOL Group:

Experiential is best: Learning in the thick of things

One look at, the talent acquisition program by international oil and gas company MOL Group, and you would think you’re in the midst of some form of new computer game.  Smart graphics and a look of a challenge about it – and it is.  It’s a new form of what could well be a regular player in the recruitment, employer branding and graduate scheme marketplace: the competition.  Like some potential merging of TV programmes where Apprentice-like candidates come together to earn the right to a job opportunity or where entrepreneurs come and pitch their business idea / venture for funding and support – Freshhh lets people be the oil tycoon working to build a fabulous business venture.  There’s even team-based cash prizes for the winners but more so the chance to learn whilst showcasing; connect to purpose and build products / services; plus share experiences and build competence.

3 rounds, with teams battling it out online and in live finals, with a history of over 8 years of the competition; 76 countries have participated, over 250 universities and 15,000 students entered to make this something of an ongoing learning phenomenon.

Screenshot 2015-05-26 at 07.29.59

The phenomenon is no surprise to people like me who just happen to be people and learning professionals by trade.  We live for the thrill of seeing people succeed be that into new roles or the successful acquisition and application of new skills.  For we believe – and this is no detraction from academic content – that experiential is best.  The learning in the thick of it

Much of corporate L&D (Learning & Development) has been locked into training courses.  Built with great intent and delivered with much competence. Yet running alongside, and increasingly competing with, the core act of work we’re seeing a real shift to other methods not only occurring but being actively and strategically deployed.  Charles Jennings now famous 70:20:10 model being one.  70 percent of learning happens on-the-job and / or people learn through doing.  20 percent is through the art of conversational exchanges (coaching and mentoring largely) with 10 percent being taught in rooms with flipcharts and handouts.

It’s the kind of “stating the obvious” that makes it so right.  In all my 20+ years of organisational change and learning this approach has delivered some outstanding learning for me and the team around me.  It is

  • hands-on,
  • working it out;
  • shared/social;
  • iterative and experimental;
  • trial and error;
  • wise old hands imparting knowledge;
  • manuals open; and in the last 10 years;
  • web searching plus social network collaboration.

I’ve long understood how much of what I’ve learned in life and a range of job-related roles was like this – experiential.

I also found some classroom teaching frustrating, boring and ineffectual.  I went on a week-long course once to learn an automator test script tool.  I never got to use the programme.  I went on a week-long course and was taught civil bankruptcy legislation and the trainer read from the manual for the entire week.

Now this is why Freshhh excites me so much.  The taught aspect – is largely online and then immediately relevant to the rest of the stages.  The team aspect and then the competition gives everyone the chance to learn by doing.  Together.  Pitched into a realistic business scenario but able to let imagination and innovation fly and then be tested in a competitive environment with their peers and industry leaders.  How they construct their ideas and pitches will be manifestation of all they’ve learned and then they’ll learn some more.  With the responses and advice received during the Freshhh process.

As MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte says “learning by doing; peer to peer teaching and computer simulation are all part of the same equation”.  That equation equals the acquisition of wisdom and experience.  Not to mention the chance to be noticed for top roles in a fascinating industry.

Ultimately this is learning in the thick of it.

The Freshhh experience.  Find out more at


Perry Timms

@PerryTimms / +PerryTimms

Director & Founder –

Chief Energy Officer – the

CIPD Social Media & Engagement Adviser

Visiting Fellow – Sheffield Hallam University

May 2015


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